Sunday 17 October 2010

Glen Affric

What with the daylight available for long walks being a wee bit restricted at the moment, a view was formed that long drives combined with relatively short hilldays wasn't a bad idea. Thus Saturday saw me & Andy leave Airdrie at the jolly reasonable hour of  7am and head all the way up the A9 to Inverness; go a wee bit further beyond Inverness than was strictly necessary; rediscover the road to Cannich and motor to Glen Affric thereafter. Not somewhere I've ever been before, but the combination of the scenery and the unseasonably clement weather have made me pretty keen to return.

There's no shortage of Munros around there. Cameron McNeish's books' suggestion of a five Munro marathon notwithstanding, we were there simply to have a go at two hills, Tom a' Choinich and Toll Creagach. They don't get a great press, for some reason, but as far as I'm concerned it was a good walk. Admittedly the path is a bit of a boggy 'mare for long periods, but you're not going to lose your way, and if you opt for a clockwise circuit like we did, there's a decent clamber up Tom a' Choinich's south east ridge to a rather unusual plateau, with a nice sweeping curve to it which leads gently to the summit. From there, it's a brief descent to the bealach between the hills, and then a fairly nonstrenuous - albeit constant - reascent to Toll Creagach.

The key to the day was the view. Every direction disclosed something that even we could recognise. The location of Glen Affric meant that looking to the east, the landscape was effectively, uniformly, flat. You were pretty much gazing straight over to Inverness, and (according to a chap at the summit who sounded knowledgeable enough) you could see the Black Isle and the Moray Firth. Skye was visible to the west; and to the north of that we knew that we could see either Liathach or Beinn Eighe - the shape was definitely one or t'other! Through a gap on the hills surrounding the west end of Loch Mullardoch it was possible to pick out the distinctive shape of Suilven; while Ben Nevis could have been likened to the proverbial sore thumb, obvious above the crowds of Aonachs and Mamores directly to the south.


As ever, the views aren't really photographable - well, no' by me at any rate! - so we just have to make do with a few shots of things that were closer to hand. And even those aren't helped by the realisation when I put them onto the computer that there's been some manky mark on my camera lens all day. :0/

Still. It was a good trip. Not convinced it was carbon neutral though.Six hours walking, nine hours driving and 430 miles covered in the car. That's OK if you're using unleaded though, surely?

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Heading up an unusually bog-free section of path. Tom a' Choinich is the one on the right.

Sneaky wee path diverting off the main drag, through the heather.

The ascent route up the first hill

Quick breather

The Wee Black Dug posing a bit. That's Toll Creagach behind her.

Jorja & Maura

An Riabhachan, across Loch Mullardoch

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Sgurr na Lapaich, likewise. That looks like a fantastic hill altogether.

Tiny zoom facility straining to produce evidence of the Ben being visible from Glen Affric.


  1. Aye Scott, nice hills. We were there a few Easters ago and were fortunate enough to play in the snow on them. My first using crampons in anger experience that meant I only ticked one of the Munros but had a great time.
    Really fancy going back again to do them in the snow - would be better than bogfest

  2. Funny - me and Andy were discussing the same thing on the way down. Slippy or not, temperatures well below freezing would improve that path!

  3. Looks like you had a fine autumnal day. Any pretence of getting out this weekend for a proper walk was shattered when I caught the cold. I did manage a trip up to Loch Earn yesterday, and a short, steep climb up the back of St Fillans. Was swating like a pig by the time I got to the top, luckily the Paramo Velez dried my out quickly enough...

  4. Looks a bit like the Flint Hills in Kansas, though yours are more majestic.

  5. Thanks for that Paul. It's a fantastic part of Scotland, certainly.
    Always nice to hear about hills in other parts of the world too!